Today we’re on to part 2 of the series on the most common “cognitive distortions,” or thinking errors. Most of us are subject to these, and they can hold us back from our full potential and cause totally unnecessary angst.
The good news is that once you know what they are, they’re pretty easy to spot and self-correct.
Ready for cognitive distortion #2? Drumroll please…
What it is:
“Emotional reasoning” means mistaking an emotional state for an accurate reflection of reality.
When it happens:
Emotional reasoning seems to rear its head most often around emotions that are both strong and have some element of shame.
The strength of the emotion can hijack the more rational parts of our brains.
And the shame factor means we’re likely to hide the feelings, which blocks any logical examination or offsetting, supportive feedback we might otherwise incorporate from other people.
We’re rarely this consciously explicit in our heads about the leap from feeling to factual belief – and that’s where the danger lies. We’re not even aware that we’re extrapolating reality from a passing emotion.
What to do if you catch yourself doing it:
Important note: nothing here is intended to suggest that the antidote to emotional reasoning is to minimize or invalidate your feelings. That would be creating an entirely different problem.
Instead, this is about recognizing a feeling – which can be important, valid, and useful – and simultaneously realizing that it might not always be 100% reflective of a permanent external reality.